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Katonah Realtor

Appreciating Homes Increased in Third Quarter | Katonah Real Estate

The number of homes nationwide gaining value on a monthly basis increased during the third quarter from 56.80 percent in July to 59.37 percent of all homes in September and the appreciation rate increased for the third straight month. However, the percentage of homes gaining value still trails the rate of 66.31 percent in September 2014, Allan Weiss, CEO of Weiss Analytics, reported

As more homes moved out of price stagnation (with annual value change within plus 1.5% to -1.5% per year) houses both appreciating and decreasing both increased.  The percentage of homes losing value rose during the quarter, from 23.40 percent in July to 26.37 percent in September.

Unlike reports based on listings or sales prices that cover only the 3 to 4 percent of homes that are sold every year, Weiss Analytics tracks actual values for all homes, using repeat sales indexes for nearly 45 million individual properties.  The Weiss index database makes it possible to provide highly accurate value trends for specific addresses and measure trends in change values on a hyper local level.  Weiss home value forecasts are widely used to determine owners’ equity, help home buyers make decisions and provide accurate forecasts of future value for lenders and investors.

“It’s too soon to know if the gain over the past three months will become a significant trend.  We are still seven points below the appreciation rate last year and the gap in depreciating homes has grown to more than 12 points—a cause for concern in many markets.  Moreover, trends in appreciation are reflecting significant regional differences.  Hotter markets in the West and Pacific States reflect rising prices and impact affordability in some markets.  Levels of appreciation found in markets like Trenton, Worcester and Allentown are falling at double digit rates,” said Allan Weiss, CEO of Weiss Analytics and former CEO of Case Shiller Weiss.


National Percentages of Appreciating and Depreciating Homes




September 2014

Total Appreciating





Total Depreciating





Selected Markets

The selected markets below illustrate the regional nature of appreciation trends today. Markets that enjoyed high rates of participation in rising values like San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles and Denver have seen their participation rates drop dramatically.  Among these markers, only Phoenix has a higher rate than it did a year ago.



September 2014

September 2015

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO



Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA



San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA



Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ



Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA



Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL



Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA



Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI



New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA



Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV



Top Performing Markets

In September Flint, MI led the nation in percentage of appreciating homes, reaching 100 percent of the properties in the Weiss Analytics database, a 39.3 percent improvement over a year ago.  Second was Reno, NV with 92.9 percent of homes appreciating. Portland was third with 96.3 percent.  Six of the ten markets are Western.


Metro Sep-14 Sep-15 Change
Flint, MI




Reno, NV




Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA




Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO




Stockton-Lodi, CA




San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA




Port St. Lucie, FL




Madison, WI




Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA




Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL




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Which States Care About the Planet? | Katonah Real Estate

Which States Care About the Planet?

Across the nation, Americans are going green – and they’re heading online for more information. Even their search results prove it, as they type in terms such as “how to save energy,” “eco-friendly,” and “electric cars.”

We researched action phrases people may search for when looking into certain environmentally friendly activities; then we used Google Trends to rank the results by topic and state. Read on for the interesting – and sometimes surprising – results.


Old bottles can become candleholders; empty egg cartons can store holiday ornaments. Reusing is all the rage for eco-conscious Americans. When it comes to the phrase “how to reuse,” a high cost of living may explain the top two results: California took the lead, followed by Hawaii. Washington State, Georgia, and Utah rounded out the top five.


The East and Midwest breezed to the top for “wind power” searches. Maine, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, and Connecticut displayed the most interest in this unique power source. Maine’s wind power initiative (Wind for ME) helps explain its top spot. Iowa draws a quarter of its electricity from wind, Indiana is an up-and-comer in the wind power sector, and Kansas is second only to Texas in terms of wind power potential. In Connecticut, wind power is a controversial topic: Attempts to construct turbines have met with local opposition, and in 2014, the Supreme Court weighed in to approve wind farms. (This could explain the high volume of searches.)


The top five hotspots for “solar power” searches were Vermont, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, and Hawaii. Vermont is an up-and-coming solar champ, with a 63% increase in money spent on solar installations between 2013 and 2014. In rural Utah and Idaho, where running power lines to some remote locations can be too pricey, solar energy often is an ideal solution. Nevada is home to the most solar jobs per capita. Finally, in Hawaii, almost one in eight homes has installed solar power.


The top four states that searched for the term “how to garden” have something in common: Idaho, South Dakota, Montana, and Utah are all states with low population density. Presumably, that means many residents may have the space to garden.


Composting involves diverting kitchen waste from the landfill and instead tossing it into bins (possibly with worms) where it can decompose to become a rich additive to soil. “How to compost” was a popular search among Colorado and Washington residents. Colorado cities, such as Denver and Boulder, provide a great deal of outreach on the topic of composting. Washington State is no surprise, either, as a new policy forces Seattle residents to compost food waste or have it sent to a processing site to avoid warnings and even fines.


In a search for “electric cars,” California and Hawaii were first and second respectively. These stats align with the number of electric car owners in the nation as well: As of 2014, approximately 5.5 out of every 1,000 registered vehicles in California were electric, while 4.2 out of every 1,000 registered vehicles in Hawaii were electric.

To see more of these maps, explore the infographic below:

It’s Easy Being Green

Saving the Earth is a hot topic these days – and one virtually all Americans would do well to familiarize themselves with. How can you do your part? Next time you have a minute to go online, try a search for some of these topics. You just may discover that you want to plant a garden, set up a compost bin, share tips on recycling, offer to carpool with a friend, or look into alternate energy sources.

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Brad Pitt Brings the Tiny Home Trend to New Orleans | Katonah Real Estate

The tiny home trend has taken off in recent years, and is now being championed by of one of Hollywood’s biggest stars: Brad Pitt. The actor-producer’s Make it Right foundation is partnering with FYI’s Tiny House Nation to build the organization’s very first tiny home to mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. This most recent enterprise will be the organization’s 109th home built in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, the neighborhood hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Pitt founded the Make it Right foundation in 2007 to provide residences for communities in need of affordable and sustainable housing. Make it Right seeks to fulfill its vision of having people all around the world “living in healthy communities and affordable, high-quality, environmentally sustainable homes.” All housing built by Make it Right follows the “Cradle to Cradle” philosophy, which was created by architect William McDonough and chemist Dr. Michael Braungart.

For a quick rundown of what exactly Cradle to Cradle entails, the organization’s website provides this helpful list:

• Materials are defined as biological and/or technical nutrients for safe use and reuse
• Products are designed for disassembly/recovery
• Uses renewable energy
• Maintains and enhances water quality
• Honors social fairness and human dignity
• Improvement is continuous and aspirational

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What you can buy in the top 10 cities | Katonah Real Estate


If you’re looking to buy a home, Michigan might be a good place to start — and California might be a place to avoid.

The Midwestern state boasts three metropolitan areas in the top 10 for highest homeownership rates in the nation, according to a recent report by the National Association of Home Builders. The metro areas of Holland-Grand Haven, Bay City and Monroe all reported more than 77 percent homeownership, compared to the national average of 64.7 percent.

California, meanwhile, has six metro areas in the NAHB list of 10 places with the lowest homeownership rates.

“As one might expect, the homeownership rate is linked to affordability,” the NAHB report says. “In general, homeownership rates are higher when homes are more affordable. Eight of the top 10 metropolitan areas have median home values below the national median home value of $171,900.”

The NAHB calculated the homeownership rate by taking the total number of owner-occupied units divided by the total number of occupied units for a chosen geography. Occupied units can either be rented or owned, so a high homeownership rate implies a low renter rate.

Here’s a look at the 10 markets with the highest homeownership rates and what’s for sale there.


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Existence of year-round Martha’s Vineyard rentals confirmed | Katonah Real Estate


Search HomeAway.com for vacation homes and cottages on Martha’s Vineyard and you’ll have to sift through more than 2,000 properties.

Ask a broker if he knows of a place where you can stay year-round, and you’ll probably hear what Martha’s Vineyard Patch.com editor Louisa Hufstader heard from her Realtor mom: Keep looking, and ask around.

Who wants to rent year-round on Martha’s Vineyard? Well, all the hard-working people who take care of the tourists but can’t afford to own, for one. Hufstader ultimately found an apartment through a Facebook group, but rounds up a bunch of other resources for year-round renters, ranging from regional housing authorities to local newspapers and, of course, Patch.com’s real estate section. Source: patch.com.



– See more at: http://www.inman.com/wire/existence-of-year-round-marthas-vineyard-rentals-confirmed/?utm_source=20140127&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dailyheadlinesam#sthash.EnYYXrjb.dpuf

Katonah-Lewisboro School District Is Now Closed For Monday | Katonah NY Homes

KATONAH-LEWISBORO, N.Y. – The Katonah-Lewisboro School District is now closed for Monday after earlier having a two-hour delay as a result of inclement weather.




Katonah Credit Score Tips for November | by Tracey Becker | Katonah Real Estate


  • Check your credit scores at least a year or two prior to looking for properties.
  • If you are purchasing your scores online buy them from the MYFICO.com site.  Other sites may have totally different score ranges then the score the banker is using for loan approval.  There are Fico, Vantage, Plus, Equifax, Credit Karma, and many more scores available online.
  • Lenders usually take the “middle score” not the “median or average” of the three credit bureau Fico scores.  Order all three Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax Fico scores from the site to find out what your  middle score is.
  • A FICO score of a 740 plus is considered excellent.  If you have a score under a 740 talk to a credit expert and get advice on how to improve it.  Do not get credit advice from a Dentist, Uncle, Parent, or anyone who is not credit qualified.  Sadly so many do and wind up hurting their credit.
  • Pulling your own credit scores at the MYFICO site will not drop your scores at all.
  • Keeping balances low “under 10% of aggregate and individual limits” on revolving credit for at least 2 months prior to mortgage application will give creditors enough time to make sure balance updates are posted to the three credit bureaus.  This will reflect a higher score when the banker pulls credit.
  • Do not co-sign for any credit if you are not in full control of making timely payments or prepared to pay the full debt yourself.
  • Do not open credit or close credit since scores can drop dramatically.  Opening credit can reduce the average age of credit.  Closing credit can take away from a well balanced credit portfolio or reduce aggregate limits on revolving credit which can drop scores dramatically.   In some cases credit needs to be opened for loan approval but only your banker can advise you of this.
  • Make sure all payments are paid on time and if you set up auto pay write down/file confirmation numbers.
  • If you change bank accounts or close a credit card make sure ALL auto pay’s associated with the account are transferred to the new account immediately.  Many consumers forget to put E-Z pass or their gym payments on the new bank account or credit card and wind up with new late payments or collections on credit.
  • Remember the higher your Fico score the more options you will have as a borrower.  Even .25%  more of an interest rate can mean higher payments costing hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of a 30 year loan.  A higher credit score can also give a buyer the ability to qualify for a larger mortgage if needed.



Tracy Becker


50 Years Later, Relive the Destruction of Old Penn Station in Photos | Katonah NY Real Estate

54 images

It was 50 years ago today that demolition began on the New York icon that evokes intense nostalgia and mourning even today: the old Pennsylvania Station. To honor the day, Atlantic Cities rounded up some beautiful photos of the transit hub in its prime, but Curbed has opted to immerse us all in sad images of the de-construction process, as plans for Madison Square Garden loomed ahead. After all, it was the painful ripping apart of the soaring archways, domed ceilings, handsome columns, and more that lit a fire under the arse of the coalition that eventually made New York’s landmarks law a reality. The extensive demolition porn of yore comes to you courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York’s wonderfully extensive photo archives. Below, you’ll also find a handful of photos of Penn when it was still gloriously intact, which kinda intensifies the grief a little. While the site’s future remains uncertain—could we feasibly see a bonkers starchitect-designed railway station in our lifetimes?—the past is, sadly, a done deal.

Land Banks Help Clear Paths For Neighborhood Renewals | Katonah NY Real Estate

What do Pennsylvania, New York, Missouri, Georgia, and Nebraska have in common? Your first thought might be practically nothing. But all of these states have passed comprehensive legislation in the past two years that authorized the formation of land banks for the purpose of reclaiming real estate whose market value in its present blighted or tax-delinquent condition is all but worthless.

For adventurous builders and developers, especially those whose business models include infill aspirations, land banks hold out the promise of inexpensive, albeit risky, redevelopment options. And if this phenomenon expands, as some experts predict it will, land banks could become a more important component in helping metros resuscitate left-for-dead neighborhoods and achieve their larger goals of attracting more residents and businesses.

“It’s an exciting time for land banks,” says Wade Kapzukiewicz, treasurer of Lucas County, Ohio, and chairman of the county’s three-year-old land bank, one of 16 in the Buckeye State.

Between 100 and 150 authorized land banks are in operation across the United States. Typically, the banks are set up to serve counties or metros like Chicago, whose Cook County Land Bank Authority is scheduled to open this fall. And if all things fall into place as planned, Philadelphia could have its first land bank by mid 2014, says Rick Sauer, executive director of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations.

Philadelphia has more than 40,000 residential and commercial properties that either haven’t paid taxes in years, are vacant, or abandoned. Various public agencies own about one quarter of these properties. The game plan over time, says Sauer, is to move a sizable portion of the land and buildings into the land bank, and repurpose as many properties as local real estate conditions will allow to get them back on the tax roles via redevelopment that could include everything from open space to market-rate and affordable housing.

Why Land Banks? Land banks “are a new tool based on a new reality,” says Dr. Frank Alexander, Sam Nunn Professor of Law at Emory University in Atlanta, and cofounder and general counsel for the Center for Community Progress, which advocates the creation of vibrant communities primarily through the reuse of problem properties in America’s cities and towns. Historically these properties have been located in dilapidated neighborhoods within a city’s urban core. But, says Alexander, the last housing recession spread this plague to the suburbs, where he’s seen whole subdivisions succumb to foreclosure.

A Quicker Fix. Land banks have become a solution for cash-strapped cities that want to rehabilitate rundown neighborhoods, but don’t have the money or manpower to chase down owners of abandoned properties or to tear down buildings.

Land banks have the legal authority to take ownership of properties within days or weeks, settle (often by voiding) title and lien obstacles, demolish what can’t be salvaged, and assemble and resell land and buildings through commercial brokers. By authorizing a land bank in the spring of 2012, Syracuse, N.Y., last November was able to initiate foreclosures on 3,900 properties that were at least two years behind in their taxes. Having someplace where the city could transfer ownership of those properties was a prerequisite for completing the foreclosure process.





A Revolutionary Renovation in Connecticut | Katonah NY Real Estate

year before the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, a man named Joseph Wheadon built a modest, one-room house in New Milford, Connecticut. Wheadon cut the lumber by hand and scavenged foundation stones from the surrounding property. After his premature death, a Greek Revival wing was built, followed by other less-distinctive additions.
More than 235 years after Wheadon first wielded his ax, a Greenwich woman discovered the property while searching for a weekend retreat. By this time, the house was dated and neglected, with systems that had outlived their usefulness. “It was my duty to the community to maintain and uphold the architectural history of the house,” says the homeowner, a former student of historic preservation, now earning a doctorate in environmental policy. “However, on the backside of the house, I wanted to bring nature in and to connect the house to its surroundings.”
Houzz at a Glance Who lives here:The home is a getaway for a local family of five Location: New Milford, Connecticut Size:  2,700 square feet; 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms That’s interesting: The old foundation stones were used to build a labyrinth behind the house.

farmhouse exterior by Blansfield Builders, Inc.

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Working with Mark Goodwin of Beinfield Architecture, and Jim Blansfield of Blansfield Builders, the owner remodeled and expanded the house, opening the interior spaces to each other and the view.
The new column-lined entryway across from the garage pays homage to the 19th-century Greek Revival facade in front. The wing to the right was newly built, and the whole house was covered in standing-seam metal roofing, which is both easy to maintain and environmentally responsible — a consideration that drove much of the project.
farmhouse living room by Blansfield Builders, Inc.

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“You venture into a different world when you venture inside,” observes Goodwin, who heeded the owner’s request to reduce every element to its simplest components.
The living-dining area is dominated by an original fireplace, now covered in reclaimed wood that’s been treated to a charcoal gray finish. “We tried to reuse as much of the wood as we could,” says Goodwin, who left some of the hand-hewn beams exposed and used one to create a sublimely understated mantel.
contemporary living room Circa 1700 in NY

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While the home feels like a radical departure from its Revolutionary past, the owner doesn’t see the two as incompatible. “If you look at the interiors, they’re contemporary in terms of being minimal,” she says. “But actually, those are the same materials that would have been used by the original builders. Instead of making it a relic of the past, we revived it and gave it a whole new identity.”
The living room sectional was custom crafted from Northern white pine, while the Andrianna Shamaris coffee table was fashioned from a tree stump. The engineered-wood floors (Castle Combe’s Worcester pattern) are made from oak, textured and treated to look like ancient reclaimed wood.
farmhouse living room by Blansfield Builders, Inc.

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The neutral decor defers to the view. The garden room is visible through the doorway at rear.

contemporary  Circa 1700 in NY

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When the owner bought the house, the kitchen had barely been updated since the 1950s and still sported its vintage metal cabinets.